Monday, March 30, 2009

Deconstructing "The Office"

And no, I'm not talking about one of my favorite NBC tv shows "The Office." I'm talking about how traditional office environs can be stifling to my generation which is why this article caught my eye:
The Millennials are coming - armed with Facebook accounts and netbooks, the latest generation of young workers are entering the workplace ready to raze traditional touchstones of business to the ground.

Web 2.0 evangelist Don Tapscott - author of tech titles including Wikinomics and The Digital Economy - is forecasting a "big conflict" in the office, sparked by the generation of 11- to 30-year-olds who are determined to reshape the workplace in their own image.
Micromanaging has always been the bane of my existence. Not that I know if I could do any better, but I like to think that if you pick good people, empower them, and then all you have to do is hold them accountable for the good and the bad. If your employee works better barefoot curled up in the sunny corner of her office, so be it! Thankfully, I have not been chastised for this....yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The politics of surrogacy

Megan McArdle reminded me of a paper I wrote last year on the politics and ethics surrounding surrogacy pregnancy. The article she links to "Fetal Foreclosure" talks of surrogate mother aborting babies when the money dries up. If proper contracts were drawn to establish the parameters involved, hopefully these abortions could be avoided. This is what I essentially argued in my paper - here's the introduction:

"Outsourcing Baby"
Although a longstanding practice that in varying forms dates back to Biblical times, modern issues surrounding surrogate motherhood challenge our preconceived notions about the social ideal of motherhood. What does it mean to be a mother if the bond between mother and child can be so readily severed? “Thus far, the image of surrogate mothers has been shaped principally by media, legal, and scholarly portrayals of surrogates either as motivated principally by monetary gain or as unwitting, altruistic victims of the patriarchy” (Ragone 2008 p.68). This dichotomous depiction ignores the dynamics of race, class, and gender in this delicate arrangement. Many groups in society question the ethics behind this production of children from “conservative Christians [who] decry the practice as tampering with the miracle of life…[to] far-left feminists [who] liken gestational carriers to prostitutes who degrade themselves by renting out their bodies” (Ali 2008). These issues challenge the “overriding cultural imperative that motherhood, reproduction, and family be squarely situated in a noncommercial sphere” (Ragone 2008 p.69). Modern technology continues to diminish the role of the surrogate by making pregnancy easier and her egg/ovum unnecessary. Policymakers need to be wary of this moral hazard. If surrogacy is to be an ethical and sustainable practice which enhances life chances as opposed to limiting them, policymakers should regulate interstate surrogacy so that contracts are between parties of similar geography if not class to minimize discrimination and patterns of stratification.

Please excuse the sociological mumbo jumbo language - it was done to appease my uber liberal professor (the one who called Phyllis Schafly the devil and Charles Murray the antichrist).

Shameless Posting of a Wish List

Since my birthday is April 5th, I thought I'd make some suggestions:

My Wish List

Supreme Court Drama

Ok, so maybe it's not drama but I do love a good sarcastic Scalia quote such as this:
Justice Antonin Scalia said he was “a little disoriented.”
“We are dealing with a constitutional provision, are we not, the one that I remember which said Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press?” Justice Scalia asked. He was referring, of course, to the First Amendment.
Scalia said this in reference to Citizens United vs. FEC - the most recent challenge to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance laws from a few years ago. The case regards "Hillary: The Movie" and the government is actually trying to argue that any movie, book, media backed by corporate dollars should fall under the jurisdiction of McCain-Feingold. Well, thank you greedy government, you might have just handed the American citizens a Supreme Court decision which will give us back some of our first amendment rights!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I <3 New Zealand

So my backup country of New Zealand may be clairvoyant. They somehow *know* that I am interested in them and thus I got pinged with a facebook ad and link to this page.

Brash, Burly Baboons

A more upbeat haiku than the other day:
Brash, Burly Baboons
Stealing our food stealthily
red bottom asses
I was reminded of this haiku I wrote in South Africa last summer when I saw this headline on BBC - Cape Town to fine Baboon Feeders:
Photo-opportunity hunting tourists caught offering food to baboons will face fines, authorities in the South African city of Cape Town have warned.
This is a clear-cut case of personal responsibility. If tourists (or tourguides for that matter) want to risk their hides with a baboon for the sake of photo, so be it! Those animals are brutal and are not to be underestimated.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flea Market Finds

1. A fun, frilly apron
2. A bike
3. A framed copy of the Desiderata...


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

debbie downer haiku

imprisoned by pain
short, brutal - can't see ahead
where is the release?

can you tell my mom is in town?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cause I'm a dork for measurement

I'll see if I have time to whip something up for this - but I think I know a few people who read this blog who might come up with something better! Let me know.
Fraser Institute's Contest on Measurement

Our Motto is "If it matters, measure it"!

The Fraser Institute is launching a new contest to identify economic and public policy issues which still require proper measurement in order to facilitate meaningful analysis and public discourse.

The Essay Contest for Excellence in the Pursuit of Measurement is an opportunity for the public to comment on an economic or public policy issue that they feel is important and deserves to be properly measured.

A top prize of $1,000 and other cash prizes can be won by identifying a vital issue that is either not being measured, or is being measured inappropriately. Acceptable entry formats include a short 500-600 word essay, or a short one-minute video essay.

Complete details and a promotional flyer can be found here.

Entry deadline is Friday, May 15th, 2009.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kudos to Obama...

for relaxing the federal stance on medical marijuana.
Attorney General Eric Holder signaled a change on medical marijuana policy Wednesday, saying federal agents will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state law.
This is one step in the right direction towards legalizing and regulating the substance. If you're interested in the latest on this fight, the Marijuana Policy Project has a great website with news on both the federal and state levels.

Why I think marijuana should be legalized (in a nutshell):
  • It is a natural, fairly benign substance which arguably does less harm than tobacco or alcohol.
  • In fact, for people with chronic pain - like my mother - it can help more than it harms.
  • If regulated, any harmful ingredients currently in the market could be reduced or eliminated.
  • It frees state resources up to pursue the truly harmful, dangerous drugs that are out there (which arguably also should be legalized, but I'd like to see how the legalization of marijuana would go first).
  • Along the lines of the previous point, frees up our court system from persecuting petty criminals who deal only in marijuana.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why poor people are poor

Direct quote from my charismatic, British prof:

"Poor people are poor because they don’t have any money. If you want
to help poor people, give them money – don’t mess with production. It
will just harm everyone including the poor people in the long run!"

Quite right!

Poetic silence

1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing"

It's a nice theme I try to live my life by. This verse is an even more personal and compelling standard to live up to than not doing anything your mama wouldn't be proud of or that you wouldn't be embarrassed to see published in a newspaper. I may not go to church regularly or study the Bible as much as I should, but Lord knows I pray to him at every opportunity. Whether that's my conscience that answers or actually Him every time, it's a good exercise in reflection. I'm usually sad or disappointed when people run from this introspection, but Tony reminded me today of the foreboding silence. This silence can be intimidating and is perhaps an acquired taste, but to me, it is so peaceful and fulfilling. Meditative yoga has helped me get comfortable with silence and the truth that awaits me there.
It’s easy to see why so many of us — Christians and pagans alike — spend lifetimes running from the living God, our hands stopping our ears, our mouths babbling prayers or blasphemies, all in an effort to avoid the great silence where God speaks to man. That silence is a fearful place, but there is love there, the great love of a parent. There is mercy too, and strength for the uncompleted race.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

D.C. Voucher Program

With a D.C. public school now sitting square out my window, I see the kids as young as 8 or 9 get off public transportation at the corner and walk into school each morning. Yes, many of these kids are by themselves. 78% of the kids I see walking into this particular school live below the federal poverty line.

While I can't attest to the quality of the school, I have read a decent amount about public education in the District and I wonder if this school is doing right by them. Which is why I was really upset to read in the WashTimes today that the Democrats in Congress have already made up their mind to not renew the voucher program that enables many D.C. kids to go to better schools:
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over the D.C. voucher program, appears to have made up its mind, according to an internal document obtained by The Washington Times.
Even if you don't agree with school choice, there hasn't been a comprehensive review of the D.C. program to justify uprooting the 1700 low income kids from their current schools. This is a travesty of epic proportions.

I saw the President and Founder of DC Parents for School Choice speak at CPAC a couple weeks ago and her rational and passionate plea for increased opportunity is inspiring. I hope her cause survives this Congress. Read more here at

Morning dew and gumdrops

I'm not one to hit snooze, but while I've been adjusting to my earlier schedule for my longer work commute, I have crawled back into bed after being up for a few minutes longing for that extra 20 minutes of sleep back. As I lay there this morning, I heard birds chirping outside my window. I hadn't noticed them yet this spring (it is spring, right?) and it took me back to a simpler time in my childhood full of hope and excitement for warm weather, playing softball, summer break - a time when I would sit around noticing the little things around me.

I'm going to enjoy this morning dew and crisp anticipation of the day. Why should I rush to worry about the day's agenda and stresses?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New vs. Old Window Views

Not quite as nice - not as much blue sky - but then I'm grateful to even have a window! I do get to watch the adorable elementary schools trod into school each AM.

More posts as I settle into my new digs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Go big or go home

Apparently, that's Obama's budget for ya.

My friend, Nick, sent me David Brook's "Moderate Manifesto" column from yesterday's Times. Brooks writes:
But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.
I actually admire the political ambition even if I disagree with all of the policies. Obama is employing the "go big or go home" strategy and I'm long as he fails. Someone at CPAC this weekend said we shouldn't wish Obama to ruin the country and that realistically speaking it will take more than one presidency to undo everything that is great about this nation of ours. I agree, but still want him as an individual as a liberal aggrandizing idealogue to fail. I hope a majority of his plan falls flat on its face. Lord help us if the plans actually go through and have to be implemented!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I couldn't say it better.

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

---Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931-2005